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UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGBUnffitURE 



DEPARTMENT BULLETIN No. 1285 





Washington, D. C. 



April, 1925 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



By 



JOSIAH C. FOLSOM, Assistant Agricultural Economist 
Bureau of Agricultural Economics 



CONTENTS 

Page 

Objects and Methods of the Study 1 

Agricultural Seasons and Employment 2 

Nonagricultural Employment Available 7 

Bringing Together Farm Job and Employee 8 

Some Characteristics of Farm Employees 13 

Farm Working Conditions 28 

Suggestions for Improvement of the Farm Labor Situation 36 



WASHINGTON 

GOVERNMENT PRINTING OFFICE 

1925 



UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 




DEPARTMENT BULLETIN No. 1285 




Washington, D. C. 



AprO, 1925 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 

By Josiah C. Folsom, Assistant Agricultural Economist, Bureau of Agricultural 

Economics 



CONTENTS 



Page 
Object and methods of the study__. 1 
Agricultural seasons and employ- 
ment 2 

Nonagricultural employment available 7 
Bringing together farm job and em- 
ployee 8 

Sources of farm labor 8 

Usual means of finding employ- 
ees and jobs 10 

Employment agencies 11 

Some characteristics of farm em- 
ployees 13 

Nationality 14 

Marital status and dependents. 16 



Page 
Some characteristics of farm em- 
ployees^ — Continued. 

Training and education 16 

Occupational history 20 

Earnings and savings 25 

Plans for the future 27 

Farm working conditions 28 

Wages 28 

Perquisites 31 

Living conditions 32 

Recreation and social standing. 34 
Suggestions for improvement of the 

farm labor situation 36 



OBJECT AND METHODS OF THE STUDY 

The average farmer is meeting increasing difficulty in securing 
efficient and sufficient hired labor, often in securing any at all. He 
is paying higher wages to obtain and keep help, and the recent decline 
in prices received for many farm products makes it harder or 
impossible to hire labor at a profit. Furthermore, the attitude of 
many ambitious, intelligent workingmen toward farm employment 
has been such as to give the impression that all such preferred other 
work. The problem is not local but increasingly national in extent. 

Consequently farmers are interested in ways and means to obtain 
capable, reliable hands and to keep them while needed. The farm 
hands themselves are interested in the kind of work offered, the 
working conditions, compensation, length of jobs, chances for sav- 
ing, and advancement. Their attitude toward agriculture as an occu- 
pation has an important influence upon the supply of farm labor. To 
study such problems one previous investigation has been made x in a 
diversified farming section. 

The object of the present study was to investigate in a region in 
which truck farming predominated, the conditions of agricultural 



1 Farm Labor in Massachusetts, 1921, by Josiah C. Folsom, United States Department 
Of Agriculture Bulletin 1220. 



106633°— 25- 



2 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

employment, best methods of obtaining and keeping a good class 
of laborers, opportunities for other employment during the dull 
season, and characteristics of farm laborers and their attitude 
toward farm life, and their ambitions for the future. 

This study was carried on in the truck-farming district of New 
Jersey in the summer of 1922 by a party of field workers. The 
investigators began work the last week of June, spending a week 
or ten days in each county visited, supplementing their canvass 
by mailing questionnaires to farmers in parts of the county not 
reached personally. The investigators visited farm operators and 
their hired workers in selected districts; along the routes traveled 
the attempt was made to visit every farmer hiring labor, whether 
or not he was strictly a truck farmer. 

Information was gathered and tabulated for general, truck, dairy, 
potato, and fruit (orchard) farms. Those farms considered as 
truck farms usually grew a variety of perishable crops throughout 
the season; the potato farms were truck farms specializing in po- 
tatoes. Because their numbers were too small to be representative, 
poultry and a few miscellaneous farms were tabulated with general 
farms, and small fruit or berry farms with fruit farms. All farms 
visited were carried on by farm operators and their families, except 
four which were corporation enterprises. 

The districts visited and the predominant types of agriculture 
in each (fig. 1) in the order visited were as follows: Gloucester 
County, truck farming, much of it for Philadelphia markets ; Salem 
County, truck and potato farming, together with some dairying: 
Cumberland County, truck and potato farming and orcharding: 
northwestern Atlantic County, truck, small fruit, and peach grow- 
ing; Bergen and Passaic Counties, truck farming for the markets 
of New York City and near-by northern New Jersey cities; Mon- 
mouth County, truck, especially potato farming. • 

TVhen the canvass was made in Gloucester County, early truck 
crops, especially tomatoes, were being gathered, and farm labor 
demand for the season was at its height. In Salem and Cumber- 
land Counties general farm and trucking work was not demanding 
labor so strongly, but in the latter county early apple picking was 
just beginning to call for additional workers. Around Hammon- 
ton, in Atlantic County, the early peach harvest was in full progress. 
In Bergen and Passaic Counties general midsummer truck-farm 
work and marketing were in full swing, employing probably the 
largest number of workers for the season. In Monmouth County 
potato digging was general. 

Two types of schedules were used in this study, one for employers 
of farm labor, the other for the employees. To tin 1 former. 375 
useful replies were obtained; to the latter. 683. Supplementary 
information was obtained from county agricultural agents. State 
agricultural and labor officials, employment office managers, and 
social welfare workers. 

AGRICULTURAL SEASONS AND EMPLOYMENT 

Only half of the farmers reporting hired help all the year. Xine- 
tenths of them hired at some time other than at harvest, and all 
hired in harvest time. The most common number of hired farm 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 3 

workers on the farms from which hiring was reported at other than 
harvest was 1; in four-fifths as many cases the number was 2; the 




Fig. 1. — Shaded territory indicates that which the investigating party studied. The re- 
mainder of each county visited, except Essex, was covered by mailing questionnaires 
to farmers. Named cities outside the shaded territory were visited to secure further 
information especially from employment agencies and other officials 

average number per farm was 3.4, made high by the inclusion of 
corporation farms which are large employers. In harvest time the 



4 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

most common number of workers hired per farm was 3; three- 
fourths as many farmers hired 2 workers, and practically as many 
hired 4 workers ; the average per farm rose to 10.4. The total num- 
ber of laborers employed was 3.4 times as great during harvest as 
for other seasons of the year (Table 1). All types of farms shared 
nearly equally in the increase of working forces except dairy farms, 
which necessarily maintain a more constant labor force to care for 
livestock throughout the year. Practically all the farm employees 
were hired as laborers. 

Table 1. — Number of farms hiring carious numbers of employees by season and 

type of farm 



Season and number of employees 






Type of farm 






General 


Truck 


Dairy 


Potato 


Fruit 


All farms 


AT OTHER THAN HARVEST TIME 



11 

53 

43 

15 

3 

2 

3 





1 

2 






22 
58 
42 
14 
10 
8 
8 
2 
1 







2 
5 
2 

1 

1 
1 
1 






1 
8 
6 
8 


1 








6 
6 
7 
4 
3 

2 



\ 


40 


1 


127 


2__ - - 


103 


3 


43 


4 


17 


5 


15 


6 to 10 


15 


Htol5 . 


3 


16 to 20 


2 


21to30 


2 


31to50 


2 


51 to 100 


1 


101 to 200 


1 








122 
329 

2.7 

1 


143 
365 

2.5 

1 


13 

57 

4.4 
2 


23 
50 

2.2 


30 
325 

10.8 


331 




1,126 


Average number of employees per farm 


3.4 


Most common number of employees per 


1 or 2 








AT HARVEST TIME 
1 


12 

20 

23 

16 

11 

34 

8 

2 

1 

1 



2 



1 


17 
16 
27 
18 
11 
37 
15 
9 
5 
1 
4 
1 




1 
2 
1 

2 
3 
2 

1 








1 
3 
4 
5 
9 
1 
1 








1 
2 

1 

7 
4 
3 
4 
5 
5 
1 
1 
1 


31 


2 . 


41 


3 


54 


4 


39 


5 


29 


6tol0 ..- - 


90 


11 to 15 


30 


16 to 20 -.- 


15 


21to25 


11 


26to30 


7 


31 to 50 .. 


9 


51tol00 


4 


101 to 200 - .- 


1 


201 to 300..- 


2 








131 
1,123 

8.6 

2 or 3 


161 
1,278 

8.0 

3 


12 

86 

7.2 


24 
153 

6.4 


35 
1,133 

32.4 


363 




3,773 


Average number of employees per farm 


10.4 


Most common number of employees per 


3 











Men naturally form the largest proportion of farm employees, 
but some women and minors are hired by Xew Jersey fanners for 
much of the year. (Table 2.) 2 Some minors, capable of perform- 
ing the work of adults, were doubtless classed as adults by their 
employers: who often did not know their ages. 



2 The totals of Tables 1 aaid 2 are nearly the same, but do not coincide, because of 
partial returns given, especially in those schedules collected by mail. 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR JN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



Outside of harvest season women and minors seem to be employ- 
ed most frequently by truck farmers and fruit growers; during 
harvest the fruit growers hire decidedly the largest number of 
such per employer, but a larger proportion of truck growers hire 
these workers, especially women. In harvest time the most frequent 
use of women and minors is in those truck-crop and fruit districts 
where farmers offer much work within their strength, demand cheap 
labor which may be unskilled, and pay largely on a piecework basis. 
Potato growers have somewhat heavier work to perform at harvest- 
ing, and use more boys than women at this period. 

Half of the reporting farmers hired season or noncasual help all 
the year ; six out of seven were hiring from March to October, inclu- 
sive; practically every farmer kept season help from May to Sep- 
tember, inclusive. The dairy farmers visited were the steadiest em- 
ployers of labor of any class of farmers. Most of them employed 
help all the year. Their increase of demand for labor from other 
than harvest-to-harvest time was the lowest of any class of farmers. 
The percentage of farmers hiring noncasual laborers in each month 
of the year is shown in Figure 2. 



Table 2. 



^Number of farmers hiring and number of casual and noncasual 
employees hired by season, and type of farm 



Season and kind of em- 
ployees 


Type of farm 


General 


Truck 


Dairy 


Potato 


Fruit 


All farms 


co 

11 


Ex 


CO 


w8 


s-g 

'- .- 
03,12 
ft 


c £ 


co 

3.3 

ft 


"3.2 

ft g 


<s2 

ft 


£1 

I 2 

ft 8 


CO 

II 

ft 


11 


AT OTHER THAN HARVEST 
TIME 

Casual employees: 

Men... 


6 








8 
1 

1 


12 
2 
6 






















2 
3 
2 


9 
33 
22 


16 
4 
3 


28 




35 


Minors 


28 






Total i. 


6 


7 


9 


20 














4 


64 


19 


91 






Noncasual employees: 

Men... ._ 


116 

4 
8 


274 
4 
9 


138 
6 
8 


321 
13 
11 


13 
2 
3 


49 
2 
6 


23 




50 




29 
2 



249 
12 



319 

14 
19 


943 




31 




26 






Total 1 


120 


2 322 


140 


345 


13 


57 


23 


50 


29 


261 


325 


2 1, 035 




AT HARVEST TIME 

Casual employees: 

Men. 


109 
33 
21 


329 

96 
96 


110 
62 
56 


358 
182 
304 


6 

4 


27 

8 


20 
5 
12 


67 
9 

27 


31 
30 
22 


336 
278 
259 


276 
130 
115 


1,117 


Women.. 


565 


Minors... 


694 






Total i_. 


119 


2 805 


140 


2 939 


8 


35 


23 


103 


34 


873 


324 


2 2, 755 






Noncasual employees: 

Men. 


116 

4 
8 


274 
4 
9 


138 
6 
8 


321 
13 
11 


13 
2 
3 


49 
2 
6 


23 




50 




29 
2 



249 
12 



319 

14 
19 


943 


Women... 


31 


Minors 


26 






Total i . 


120 


2 322 


140 


345 


13 


57 


23 


50 


29 


261 


325 


2 1, 035 





1 Total numbers of "farmers hiring" are usually not the total of the figures given above those totals, as 
many farmers were hiring two or more classes of labor. 

2 Figures for men, women, and minors given above do not add to this total because some employers re- 
ported totals without details. 



G 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



Most Xew Jersey farmers hire casual workers for. general farm 
work, for operations involved in the starting of crops, such as plant 
setting, and especially for harvesting. The work is not steady, but 
usually sufficiently so that migratory casual workers often stay in a 
locality several months. About one-third of the reporting farmers 
stated that they kept such workers usually for not over two months; 
one-fourth kept them a month longer ; after that they dropped them 
rapidly. 

Farmers seldom hire casual workers in the winter (see fig. 2). 
The demand for this type of labor picks up quickly after March, 
especially on truck farms, but lags a month or two behind on potato 



Percentage of Farmers Hiring- Noncasual and Casual Labor 



PER CENT 



90 



















— ^ 
















































/ 


<**•*""" 


V 

\ 














/ Nc 
I t 


ncosua 
.abor 


i 




/ 
/ 
/ 


\ 
\ 
\ 

\ 






















/ 
/ 
/ 




\ 

\ 








S '^- 












i 

1 
1 

/ 








\ 
\ 

\ 














C 


asuol 


/ 
/ 
/ 








\ 

\ 
\ 














L 


abor 

V 


f 








\ 

\ 
\ 


i 
V 














/ 












\ 
\ 










4 
• 


** 














S 


K 





80 
70 
60 
50 
AO 
30 
20 
10 



JAN. FEB. MAR. APR. MAY JUNE JULY AUG. SEPT. OCT. NOV. DEC. JAN. 

Fig. 2. — Half of the farmers hire some noncasual lahor all the year, and practically all 
do from April to September, inclusive. The demand for casual labor is almost nothing 
in the winter: it reaches its peak in July and August. (Noncasual labor, 314 reports; 
casual labor, 304 reports) 

and fruit farms. It is at its height in July and August, when about 
three-fourths of the farmers are hiring casuals. The peak of de- 
mand for casual labor among potato farmers comes largely in August 
;m<( September. 

The total labor demand of TO farmers in 1921 is indicated in 
Figure 3. The information from which the graph was made was 
asked of only part of the farmers visited. It was expected that this 
information would be representative, but apparently these farmers 
hired more than the average at all times of the year. However, the 
illustration probably shows comparative seasonal fluctuations in 
farm-labor demand of all types of farms visited. The data of 
Table 1 support this conclusion. 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 7 

NONAGRICULTURAL EMPLOYMENT AVAILABLE 

One of the great drawbacks that prevents many capable, ambitious 
wage earners from entering farm work is the seasonal character of 
the business, involving a long time of slack employment in winter 
and the frequently coincident difficulty in obtaining other near-by 
employment. The farmer who can offer steady year-round work 
can usually get a better class of labor and often at a slightly lower 
rate of wages than his neighbor who hires only part of the year. 
This was frequently evident from the character of the workers in- 
terviewed and was strikingly illustrated in a section where a large 
corporation farm was employing many workers. The neighboring 
farmers, who were operating upon the usual family scale, consist- 
ently complained of a shortage of labor so serious as to compel 
consideration of changes in farming methods, because the large farm 



Number of Farmers Hiring Help and Number of Employees Hired, by Quarter-Month Periods 



NUMBER 

OF 

FARMER 

EMPLOYERS 

125 



100 



50 



25 




NUMBER 

OF 

EMPLOYEES 



500 



400 



300 



200 



100 



Fig. 3.- 



JAN. FEB. MAR. APR. MAY JUNE JULY AUG. SEPT. OCT. NOV. DEC. 



-This chart shows the comparative seasonal fluctuations in farm labor demand 
of 70 New Jersey farmers throughout the year 



was attracting all available labor. Although the manager of the 
large farm was paying about 25 cents less per day than others said 
they would pay for labor, he was offering steady work, largely year 
round, and was providing living accommodations somewhat above 
the average for the employees. 

The seasonal nature of farm work forces many who engage in it 
to make part of their living by other means. Employees were 
asked if they had any regular variations of employment through- 
out the year, with special reference to nonagricultural work. 
There seemed to be no general swing to particular work in 
any locality. Some men depended upon common labor and odd 
jobs for work. Many men and some women turned to industrial 
employment. A few, mostly women, entered domestic or other per- 
sonal service. In southern New Jersey men occasionally became 
oystermen or deep-sea fishermen from fall to spring. The majority 
oi minors returned to school in September at the beginning of the 



8 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPAETMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

school term. During the farming season work on other farms was the 
most available source of employment, except in Bergen and Passaic 
Counties, where manufacturing industries predominated. In winter, 
manufacturing and industrial work offered the chief sources of 
employment practically everywhere. Doubtless in many cases such 
opportunities were insufficient for all desiring work. Many of the 
migratory families found on farms in the summer turn to industrial 
work and common labor upon their return to the cities in the fall. 

The farm workers interviewed were asked what kind of work they 
expected to seek and where they would hunt for it when they left the 
jobs on which they were engaged. Many answers were influenced by 
the fact that it was midsummer when the question was asked, and 
it is probable that the replies would have been very different at 
another season. The replies were also influenced by the length of 
time for which, workers expected their jobs to last, by the kind of 
work the persons expected to seek, and by the wages wanted and 
offered. Of the 683 workers, practically 1 in 5 expected to be kept 
indefinitely by his employer and 1 in 7 to seek other farm work 
for his next job. Thus, 1 in 3 was definitely to continue in agricul- 
tural work. One-fourth of the workers did not know what they 
would do beyond seeking laboring jobs, of whom many would be 
again employed by farmers. One in 10 expected to engage next in 
industrial employment, and over a fifth of the employees were minors 
expecting to return to school sometime in the fall. 

BRINGING TOGETHER FARM JOB AND EMPLOYEE 

SOURCES OF FARM LABOR 

A large majority of farmers found most of their laborers in their 
own or adjoining localities. Noncasual labor was more largely found 
locally than was casual labor. Truck farmers, more than any other 
type of farmer studied, had to go beyond their immediate localities 
for day labor — to Philadelphia and Camden from Gloucester County 
and to near-by cities, especially to New York, from Bergen and 
Passaic Counties. 

Migratory farm labor in New Jersey seems to be found mostly east 
and south of Trenton. Italian families from Philadelphia form the 
majority of migrants east and south of that city; they are employed 
largely on truck and berry farms, where there is much work within 
the strength and ability of women and children. These families 
migrate to farms in time for asparagus cutting or strawberry picking 
in the spring and stay in the country often as late as October, the 
end of the cranberry harvest. Economic necessity compels all mem- 
bers from young to old to work if possible, to which the under- 
nourished appearance of some of the children at times gave eloquent 
testimony, not only among Italians but also among Poles and other 
workers of foreign races. Some families spend up to several months in 
a locality, according to the labor demand : others move from one place 
to another during the season. Because the work in which they en- 
gage i^ largely piecework-, (heir earnings depend much upon weather 
and crop conditions. Families are often paid as a unit. Estimates of 
their earnings per season run up over $1,000. Housing for Italian 
families working on the farms is usually meager, yet. poor as it is, 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 






some Philadelphia relief workers consider it decidedly more healthful 
and desirable in summer than the city homes of these families. 

The season's farm work over, the Italians return to their city 
tenement districts. Prominent among their winter occupations are 
common labor and home work taken in from factories. Some Italian 
families seem to do little work winters, partly because many find our 
winter climate very trying. 

The Italians seem to be usually thrifty and saving. Many have 
saved money and some have bought their homes. Some families can 
live all winter upon the summer's earnings. Others that have not 
been so fortunate borrow from friends and at the end of the next 
summer pay their debts, often only to repeat what amounts to an 
annual financial cycle. Some poor families, particularly those in 




Fig. 4. — Typical Italian farm buildings near Hammonton. N. J. Crop production is 
carried into the very dooryard. Buildings are frequently unkempt in appearance and 
their furnishings and conveniences for even the farm family are of barest kind among 
most farmers of this class 

which the husband and father can not earn sufficient for support, are 
forced to appeal to charities during the winter. 

The second generation of Italians are becoming Americanized. 
Fewer of the mature young people, especially women, will work on 
farms. They are demanding better living conditions on farms. 
The young women are insisting that their husbands assume all the 
burden of family support. 

Some parts of Xew Jersey have resident Italians who are rising 
from the laborer stage to that of farm operator. Many of these men 
and their families are farming land which Americans had considered 
too poor, and are making their living at it. Some of the best farmers 
around Hammonton are Italians (fig. -±). These people are gradu- 
ally adopting American standards of life: they are recognizing the 
value of education for their sons, but are not so quick to see it for 
their daughters. The women are not compelled to work so much in 
the fields as formerly. As a whole, they are becoming increasingly 
assertive socially and politically, especially if educated. 
10CU33 — 25 2 



10 BULLETIN" 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

Most of the negroes interviewed in the course of this survey were 
of a good type, ambitious, bright, and intelligent, though often with 
little education. They were usually farm bred and in favor among 
farmers because they are experienced and speak English. Some of 
these negroes come every spring from States as far south as the 
Carolinas to work on southern New Jersey farms and return to the 
South in late fall. Others, now resident in New Jerse}^, originally 
came from the South or are of southern extraction. 

Monmouth County potato-harvest laborers are to some extent 
recruited from migratory families and from roving, casually work- 
ing men. The New Jersey cranberry harvest attracts large num- 
bers of migratory workers in September and October. 

USUAL MEANS OF FINDING EMPLOYEES AND JOBS 

The majority of farmers reported little or no trouble in obtain- 
ing help early in the season of 1922. Near large cities, especially 
New York, however, there were many complaints that labor, espe- 
cially experienced labor, was^scarce. This applied more to trucking 
than to other types of farming. In northern New Jersey some of the 
midsummer farm-labor shortage was attributed to the demand of 
railroads for men to break the shopmen's strike. On the other hand, 
men out on strike from Pennsylvania coal mines were found working 
on farms in that same region. In Monmouth County the potato mar- 
ket was so poor that at the time the canvassers visited the district 
many farmers had stopped digging the crop ; this threw enough farm 
help out of work to create a surplus of labor. On the whole, how- 
ever, the supply and demand in farm labor was such that wages 
had risen sharply from March to July, especially when harvesting 
began. Increased wages usually attracted new workers or kept 
on the job laborers already there. 

Considerable variation in New Jersey farm-labor supply is due 
to the demand of near-by industries of all kinds, as well as to 
crop conditions and markets. Mills and plants in cities and towns 
and, frequently, rural highway construction all attract labor. That 
much of the farmer's difficulty in getting labor often lay in his own 
attitude and practices was shown by the fact that farmers in the same 
locality gave different reports and opinions of the situation. Farmers 
naturally wish to hire labor as cheaply as possible, but are often 
shortsighted enough to turn down capable men because they ask a 
somewhat higher wage than do less capable ones. The saving in wage 
is usually offset by losses due to lack of efficiency, but this is often 
hard for farmers to see. 

In almost equal percentages of cases farmers obtained laborers 
by personal search, through or of acquaintances, through farm 
bureaus, offices of the United States Employment Service, or by 
engaging those applying for employment (see Table 3). The 
methods used varied somewhat from place to place and also from 
one type of farming to another. General farmers seemed to have 
to hunt for their help more than did the truck f armors to whom 
many Laborers applied for work. Likewise farmers in southern 
New Jersey were forced to personal search for labor more often 



TRUCK-FARM LAB<5r IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



11 



than farmers in other districts who were so situated that they 
could apply readily to farm bureaus or to public-employment offices. 
Much Italian labor is hired through the agency of " padrones " or 
" row bosses," usually at an agreed amount per head. In some 
cases, at least, the padrones also charge the workers for getting 
them jobs. They accompany the workers to the jobs and act as field 
bosses or " row bosses," receiving the same wages as other workers 
plus a small agreed amount for each one supervised or bossed. The 
use of padrones was found almost wholly near or to the east and 
south of Philadelphia. The patronizing of private employment 
agencies by farmers was found mostly in districts near large cities. 
Advertising was seldom used. 

Table 3. — Farmers,'' principal methods of obtaining farm labor and employees' 
actual methods of obtaining jobs held, by percentages of total reports 



Method used 



Farmers 
employ- 
ing 



Laborers 



All 



American 
born 



Foreign 
born 



Through or of acquaintances 

Through family 

Laborers apply for work 

Personal search 

Solicited by employer 

Private employment agency 

Public employment agency or farm bureau. _ 
Through or solicited by row boss or padrone. 
Advertisement or answer to advertisement.. 
Other, various 



Total reports (100 per cent). 



Per cent 
19.5 



Per cent 
28.3 
13.2 



Per cent 
28.5 
15.5 



17.8 
18.2 



4.8 
18.5 
7.2 
3.4 
10.6 



37.9 
8.7 
5.3 

.6 
3.1 

.4 
2.5 



37.7 
9.3 
2.4 

.8 
2.0 

.6 
3.2 



292 



676 



496 



Per cent 
27.8 
6.7 



7.2 
13.3 



6.1 
"~.~6 
180 



Nearly four-fifths of the farm laborers interviewed reported get- 
ting the jobs at which they were working (Table 3) through their 
own personal search or that of friends or family, or of or through 
acquaintances. Their infrequent use of employment agencies was 
largely confined to patronage of private employment agencies by 
the foreign born. 

EMPLOYMENT AGENCIES 

Employment agencies placing farm help in New Jersey were 
visited in New York, Philadelphia, and several New Jersey cities. 
They may be grouped into those of the United States Employment 
Service and those privately conducted. 

The United States Department of Labor, in cooperation with 
State and local authorities, conducts offices of the United States 
Employment Service in employment centers of New York, New 
Jersey, and Pennsylvania, where they constitute an important factor 
in the employment agency business. These offices place all classes 
of labor and their services are free to the public. From the nature 
of their localities the placements of the offices are largely industrial, 
although certain offices place large numbers of farm workers over 
much of New Jersey. County agricultural agents often maintain 
close contacts with these offices and forward to them the labor de- 
mands of farmers in their districts. 



12 BULLETIN 12*5, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

The private employment offices visited handled various classes 
of labor, some specializing in particular types. All were licensed 
under similar State laws and usually under the control of State 
labor officials, so their business practices were rather uniform. Fees 
charged applicants for employment were regulated or subject to 
the approval of specified authorities, but there appeared to be no 
such regulation of those charged applicants for help except in Penn- 
sylvania. Most agencies charge both parties to a placement trans- 
action. Charges for the applicants for farm employment run from $1 
to *'2 usually, and those for the applicants for farm help from $1 to 
S4 per worker placed, more or less according to what the agencies 
think they can collect. The competition of the United States 
Employment Service is tending to force a reduction of private agency 
fees. 

Xew York and Xew Jersey laws require licensed employment 
agencies to ask an applicant for work to give, when possible, the 
names and addresses of former employers or of persons to whom such 
applicant is known. Farmers seeking help seem to make little use of 
these references. In time of labor scarcity they are forced to ignore 
the desirability of investigating them. The visited employment 
agencies keep no record of a man's successive appearances at their 
offices or of his performance on jobs which he accepts. Most agency 
officials depend largely upon their ability to size a man up by his 
appearance and his story at his first appearance. Furthermore, 
many men reappear, and the agents often acquire a working knowl- 
edge of their reputations and abilities from the men and from their 
former employers. 

A large proportion of the farm hands who patronize employment 
agencies appear to be an unsettled, roving class, men who for va- 
rious reasons stay on their jobs only a short time and can not or do 
not try to get new jobs near their old ones, partly because of their 
inefficiency. In fact, some employment agency officials consider 
most farm hands as of this character. That this impression is 
partly untrue is usually seen when one is in contact with the farm 
hands actually working in a district. Many of them are residents 
there and have often been employed in the locality or on the same 
job for years. \Vork comes to them, or they are able to get sufficient 
Avork near by and do not need to patronize an employment agency. 

There was some complaint that officials of private employment 
agencies encourage men to stay on their jobs only a few weeks, and 
that they discriminate against men who hold their jobs any length 
of time by sending them to undesirable jobs when they return to the 
agencies seeking employment. It is stated that the agencies aim to 
collect as many fees as possible. Some agencies were said to be 
charging more than legal fees when sending men to jobs. 

To facilitate judgment of an applicant's knowledge of the work 
desired, an official of the United States Employment Service in Xew 
Jersey is working on oral trade tests for many occupations. These 
trade tests are made up of questions and answers concerning char- 
acteristics of the job under consideration. Each question is framed 
to closely require a certain short, definite answer nor likely to be 
known to an inexperienced person. A perfected system of such 
tests should materially aid employment officials in the satisfactory 
placement of workers. 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IX NEW JERSEY, 1922 



13 



SOME CHARACTERISTICS OF FARM EMPLOYEES 

Nearly all the farm employees interviewed were working as farm 
hands. A few (3 per cent) were foremen. Occasional mechanics 
were found around the machinery of large farms (see Table 1). 
Half of the workers who were under 21 years of age. and the women, 
were engaged in light work more or less adapted to their strength 
and ability. Half of the minors and most of the women were work- 
ing on truck farms,. on such jobs as weeding, hoeing, picking berries, 
picking up potatoes, and packing produce for market. 

Table 4. — Jobs on which farm employees were engaged when interviewed 



Kind of farm work 


American 
born 


Foreign 
born 


All em- 
ployees 


Light farm work (minors and women) 


72 
370 

6 
21 

7 
16 

5 


11 
167 


83 


Farmhand . _ 


537 


Livestock worker (cattle and poultrr).. . 


6 


Teamster... 


2 


23 


Farm mechanic 




Foreman . ... . ... 


5 

1 


21 


Miscellaneous 


6 






Total cases.. _______ 


497 


186 


683 







At the time of interview one-third of the workers had been on 
their jobs not over a month, one-half not over two months, and three- 
fourths not over six months. Practically one-fifth of the workers 
had been with the same employer over a year, and 27 of the 677 re- 
porting on this point had been with their employers 10 or more years, 
including one for 40 and another for 61 years. 

Three-fourths of the farm workers had been engaged for the 
season or year and expected to be kept by their employers until Oc- 
tober or later : one-fifth had been hired for only a short time or the 
duration of certain work. 

Practically no persons were working under any definite agreement, 
oral or written. 

One-third of the workers had worked on the same farms previous 
to the job held when interviewed, nearly half of them within that 
or the previous season. Two-thirds of the group had got back by 
asking for the work and through their previous acquaintance with 
their employer. 

About two-thirds of the reporting farmers stated that their em- 
ployees were experienced in the work for which they were hired: 
about one-fifth complained of employees' inexperience, and the 
largest proportion of these complaints came from truck farmers of 
Bergen and Passaic Counties. 

In the judgment cf the investigators, three-fourths of the farm 
employees interviewed were of either average or good efficiency in 
the f a-rm work in which they were engaged ; one-third of them were 
classed as better than average ; one- fourth of the workers were child 
laborers: and one-eighth of these employed seemed to be fairly good 
farm workers, but in many cases it seemed plain that they would 
have been more efficient in other employment. Physical handicap 
and poor health limited the usefulness of a few. Only 1 worker in 
10 was classed as a distinctly poor farm hand. Amon_r the most im- 



14 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OE AGRICULTURE 

portant reasons for inferiority were laziness, ignorance, physical 
handicaps, shiftlessness, and bad habits. 

Farmers stated that an important cause of inefficiency among farm 
laborers is the illegal liquor traffic. Regardless of their personal 
attitudes toward legal prohibition of the liquor traffic, the existing 
situation was frequently complained of among farmers and persons 
acquainted with the labor situation. Occasional petty thieving by 
farm hands was mentioned, but employers considered them honest 
as a class. 

Employees were reported as usually not leaving their jobs before 
the farmer was ready to discharge them. Most complaint to the 
contrary came from truck farmers, and especially from those lo- 
cated near large cities in northern New Jersey where labor turnover 
seemed the most rapid. 

NATIONALITY 

In the canvass made by the investigators, 683 farm employees were 
interviewed ; 497 of them were American born, 186 were foreign born. 
There were 135 negroes, all American born except 1. Seventeen 
nationalities were represented among the foreign born, of which 73 
Italians formed the largest group. There were also 40 Polanders 
and Russians, 31 Germans and Austrians, 14 British and Canadians. 
Practically no foreign-born workers were found on dairy farms vis- 
ited ; three-fifths of those interviewed were working on truck farms. 
Italians made up the foreign born found on fruit farms, but were 
not found on any potato farms visited. The canvassers met no 
foreign-born farm hands in Salem County; but the proportion of 
those to American-born employees grew larger as the party worked 
north, until in Bergen County it was over 45 per cent. One-fourth 
of the foreign born interviewed were found in Gloucester County, 
and one-fifth each in Bergen and Passaic Counties. Practically all 
the negroes were found in southern New Jersey, where they were 
working in about equal numbers on truck and general farms. In 
Gloucester and Salem Counties negroes made up two-fifths of the 
farm employees interviewed. 

American-born whites alone were hired on one-fifth of the farms 
visited and American-born negroes alone on one-fifteenth. Foreign- 
born workers alone were hired by a quarter of the farmers and among 
others by three-fifths of the farmers reporting. The largest pro- 
portion of the farmers hiring only native-born whites or negroes 
were found among the general and truck farmers of southern Xew 
Jersey. The largest proportion hiring foreign-born workers alone 
were in the Hammonton district of Atlantic County and in the 
tracking section of Bergen and Passaic Counties. Among the 
foreign-born workers Italians were hired among others on one-third 
of all farms, exclusively on one-eighth of the farms studied. They 
were largely employed on the truck farms of Gloucester County and 
on fruit farms near Hammonton. Next in numerical importance 
were the Poles, and, after them, Germans. These classes were found 
largely in the trucking districts of Bergen and Passaic Counties. 

Of 167 foreign-born farm workers, 94 had taken no step toward 
becoming naturalized citizens of this country; some had no intention 
of remaining in this country and becoming naturalized. Thirty-two 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IX NEW JERSEY, 1922 15 

had filed their declarations of intention to become citizens, and some 
of these had been unable to cany through proceedings for naturaliza- 
tion because of frequent change of residence. The remaining 41 
had become naturalized. 

Six hundred and one farm employees reported concerning their 
parentage. American born of American-born fathers numbered 335 
and of foreign-born fathers 141 ; foreign-born numbered 125, or 20.8 
per cent. Many American-born minors 3 of foreign-born fathers 
were so young they were considered by their employers as of the same 
nationality as their parents. 

Over five-sixths of the farm operators considered in this study* were 
native-born, and all were white except a few negroes. Nearly half 
the foreign-born operators were German, largely engaged in truck 
farming in Bergen County. Most of the remaining foreign born 
were Italian fruit growers located near Hammonton. Nationality 
of farm operators sometimes accounted for their preferences in hir- 
ing help. 

In southern New Jersey there is a general tendency, rather marked 
in Gloucester and Salem Counties, to prefer negro labor. In spite 
of this, Italians in some instances have been forcing out the colored 
workers by offering to work for lower wages, but once thoroughly 
established and with competition overcome, the Italians have not 
hesitated to demand higher pay. The Italians studied were largely 
employed on the truck farms of Gloucester County and the fruit 
district of Hammonton to which they often go in family groups, 
[n Bergen County a settlement of German-born farmers preferred 
German-born employees; otherwise Poles were generally liked there. 

Farmers in Salem County were occasionally found to have in 
their families boys taken at 10 years of age or older from institu- 
tions for destitute children, admittedly to use them within their 
strength and ability to take the place of other labor which was un- 
obtainable. This had been going on for years. The youngsters 
were apparently well treated and appeared contented. 

Fifty-five of the 683 farm employees interviewed were women or 
girls. These were found most frequently on truck farms, and also 
on fruit farms in Gloucester and Cumberland Counties. In the 
former county they were largely Italians from Philadelphia and in 
the latter mostly native-born residents. 

Minors interviewed were 141 in number. Five-sixths of them 
came from homes near their working places. Half were employed 
on truck farms, and the rest were scattered among all other types 
except dairy farms. 

The ages of farm employees interviewed ranged from 8 to 73 
and averaged 29.6 years. Practically three-fifths of the American 
born and one-fifth of the foreign born were under 25 years of age. 
The large number of American-born minors who were working 
during the summer vacation of public schools accounts in some 
measure for the lower average age of the American born. It also 
emphasises the farm demand for cheap harvest labor and the large 
proportion of the working force which is youthful. 

3 In this study minors were considered to be those under 1G years of age unless other- 
wise specified, as this is the age limit of compulsory education in New Jersey. 



16 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



MARITAL STATUS AND DEPENDENTS 

All except one of the farm employees under 21 years of age were 
single; of those older, just over half were married (Table 5). 
Scattering cases of persons widowed, separated from their families, 
or divorced were met. Those reporting dependents had an average 
of 3; those of the American born averaged 2.6; of foreign born 
3.8; of negroes 2.8. 

TRAINING AND EDUCATION 

Three-fifths of the farm employees interviewed said they were 
farm bred ; a slightly larger proportion of foreign born than native 
born so reported. 

Farm workers were asked whether or not they could speak, read, 
and write in English, and, if foreign born, in their mother tongue. 
Only 4.8 per cent of the American born were unable to read and 
write English, as compared with 55.9 per cent of the foreign born 
who could not read or write the language, including 7 per cent 
who could not speak it, English was the mother tongue of a few 
of the foreign born; of the others reporting, 37.6 per cent neither 
read nor wrote their mother tongue. 

Table 5. — Marital status and dependents of farm employees by marital status 





Marital status 


Class of employees 


Single 


Married 


Widowed 


Separated 
from 
family 


Divorced 


All 
em- 
ployees 


American born: 


238 
94 

23 
66 



133 

1 
85 




18 


10 



12 



1 



2 





238 




259 


Foreign born: 


24 




162 








421 


219 


28 


13 


2 


683 








Number reporting dependents: 




127 
63 


5 
3 


3 







136 


Foreign born 


67 






All employees 




190 


8 


3 





203 






Number of dependents reported: 




335 

245 


10 
8 


8 



354 


Foreign born 


| 254 






All employees . . . 




580 


18 


8 


| 608 






Average number of dependents per case 
reporting them: 
American born 




2.6 
3.9 


2.0 
2.7 


2.7 







2.6 


Foreign born.. 


3.8 










1 


3.1 


2. 2 1 2. 7 


ol 













The actual length and kind of schooling received by 678 workers 
are shown in Figure 5. The cases included those still attending 
school. Over half the native born had had five or more grades of 
grammar-school work and one in seven had attended school beyond 
the grammar grades. One-third of the foreign born had attended 



TRUCK-FARM LABOE IX NEW JERSEY, 1922 



17 



ftp I 

ft , o 

d l« 



2 S d 

11 s 

II 





; 












- 


I 




— 






its rci 


^ kj ra f?a O 


: 




i 


r 






106633°— 21 



18 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



school in their native lands from five to nine years, and some re- 
ceived their education in American schools. It was often plain from 
their statements that in some countries the terms of public schools 
were very short and the courses of study limited or that pupils had 
been able to attend only for short periods in the winter and often 
at considerable expense and distance from home. Educational prog- 
ress under such circumstances was usually slow compared with that 
expected in American schools. 

The age of leaving school indicates to some extent the education 
received. Eeports of 416 farm employees showed that over half left 
school at from 11 to 16 years of age. averaging 15 years. In other 
words, the average pupil could not have had over a year of high- 
school work. If the educational progress of those who had left school 
was to be judged by that of those still in school (Table 6). the aver- 
age farm worker had left school before completing more than seven 
grades of grammar school. This supports the finding that over half 
of those who attended school left before they could reach high school. 

The Xew Jersey State laws require regular school attendance of 
children between the ages of 7 and 16: but pupils 11 years of age 
who have completed the fifth grade may obtain work certificates from 
the local school authorities and be allowed to leave school to go to 
work, except that attendance of one day a week is required at a con- 
tinuation school. 



Table 6. — Education received ~by farm employees under 16 years of age 1 











Grades or years of school work completed 








Age 


Orammar-school grades 


High-school years 


Total 




1 


2 


3 


4 


5 


6 


7 


8 


1 


2 


3 


cases 


8 vears 


1 




1 
1 
1 
2 






| 












1 


9 vears, 




3 
-- 

1 

1 
1 


2 
o 

3 
4 
3 
3 

1 




... -..!-- _ -. 


3 


10 vears .. 




1 

6 
4 
4 
3 


1 




! 


8 


1 1 vears . _ 




2 
3 
3 


3 






13 


12 vears . 




4 
10 


1 
9 






22 


13 vears - .. 




2 


i 


32 


14 vears 




1 


8 10 


5 ; 2 

3 1 


1 1 


35 


15 years 




3 | 2 | 26 










Total 


1 6 


8 


18 


22 | 22 34 | IS 5 


4 2 2 140 



1 Bold-faced figures indicate normal grade for age. 

2 Eleven of these children 14 and 15 years of age had left school; all except 1 had completed Ihe fifth grade 
and all except 2 had gone further in school. 

The actual amount of education which 110 minors of school age 
had received up to the time of interview is shown in Table 6. It is 
here assumed that Xew Jersey children enter school at 6 years of 
age, as most of them seem to do, and complete one grade of school 
work each succeeding year. Of 110 cases only 58 were making- 
normal progress or better for their ages. The remaining 58.6 per cent 
were all backward. The percentage of those backward increased in 
general with the ages of the children. (See fig. 6.) Thirty- 
seven per cent were from 2 to 6 years behind their normal grades. 
averaging 2.9 years. How much of this backwardness is due to • 
practices or necessities of farm work it is impossible to state. It 
should be noted that six-sevenths of these children had homes in 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



19 



localities near their working places and were not the children of 
migratory agricultural workers who often present a difficult prob- 
lem to school authorities. 4 

Many families of migratory farm workers leave the cities, espe- 
cially Philadelphia, for truck-farm work in New Jersey in May at 
about the time strawberry picking begins, or even earlier. Xeed for 
the children's earnings, as well as the fact that the parents are 
leaving home, compels most of them to take their children with 
them. Whether or not the children begin work at once, they are 
taken from school and may not be able to return until after the 
cranberry harvest in October or later. This interruption to school 
work is serious, both for the educational progress of children and for 
the work of the school authorities in cities like Philadelphia, where 
hundreds of children are affected. New Jersey school authorities 

School Progress of Children Under 16 Years of Age Working on Farms Compared with 

Normal 



AGE GROUP 



8-9 YEARS 



IO-II YEARS 



12-13 YEARS 



IA--I5 YEARS 



AVERAGE 

UNDER 16 YEARS 



10 



20 



30 



PER CENT 

40 50 60 



70 



80 



90 100 



r 






3HN$Ki ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 


i 


1 1 1 


[mlZIZI'iiiiii 




WW, 

1 


//////////////// 

1 


1 : 1 ! • 


W///M 

1 




W/a 








W///////////A 



\Backward i n school 



In advance of 

normal school progress 



Fig. 6. — The percentage of children not making normal school progress increased some- 
what with their ages. At no time was the proportion of backward' children less than 
33 per cent ; in fact 58.6 per cent of all Avere not making normal progress. Nearly 
all of these children belonged in New Jersey localities near their working places 






naturally look upon migrant families from outside of their State as 
nonresidents, and little or no effort is made to extend educational 
facilities to them. 

Occasionally New Jersey families become migrant truck-farm 
workers, but usually for not such long periods of the year as non- 
residents. The resulting interruption to the school work of their 
children seems less serious. While at home they are within the 
reach of truant officers, who, although making some allowances for 
family necessities and the agricultural labor situation, try to keep 
the children in school. When such families leave home to work else- 



4 Workers of the Children's Bureau, United States Department of Labor, found that of 
869 school children, largely Italians, who left Philadelphia schools to go w T ith their fami- 
lies to truck-farm work in New Jersey. 71 per cent of those between 8 and 16 years of 
age were from 1 to 6 years below their normal grades. (In this report children were 
considered to have entered school normally at the ages of 6 or 7 and to have completed a 
grade of work each succeeding year.) Tenth Annual Report of the Chief. Children's 
Bureau, United States Department of Labor, Washington, 1922, pp. 13-1*. 



20 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



where the move seems to come in late summer or early autumn. 
School authorities make little or no effort to follow up such fam- 
ilies when out of their home jurisdiction. 

To allow school children to help on home farms an occasional 
rural school in Xew Jersey makes a practice of opening one or two 
weeks later in the fall than do most others, and of changing its 
hours to let out the children early in the afternoon to help in the 
harvesting of truck crops. 

Many children, especially those of migrant families, are forced to 
work while very young because of family poverty. Taking them 
from school seriously checks their training for life and makes it 
practically certain that later they will be seriously handicapped in 
the struggle for a living for themselves and their families. 



Percentages of 683 Farm Employees Who Had Engaged in Each of Certain Occupations 

PER CENT 

10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 



COMMON LABOR 

AGRICULTURE 

UNSKILLED 

SKILLED 
INDUSTRY 

UNSKILLED 

SKILLED 

BUSINESS 

CLERICAL 

ADMINISTRATIVE 
OTHER OCCUPATIONS 

INCLUDING MILITARY 
OR NAVAL SERVICE 



T 



V/////////////^////////< / ^/< / U , , ; "////////A 



\ 



5 



H 



QBB Lifetime UZZZ1 Recently (£mmer %f 1922) 

Fig. 7. — Unskilled occupations had predominated in the working lives of farm em- 
ployees. Practically all had engaged in unskilled agriculture. There had been nearly 
as great a. variety of occupational activity in the three and a half years (January, 
1919, to> summer of 1022) as in the working lives, of the group 

OCCUPATIONAL HISTORY 

No minor under 18 years of age claimed to have a trade except 
occasionally one who referred to some type of agriculture. Disre- 
garding these because they had had insufficient opportunity to learn 
a trade, it appears that two-thirds of the farm employees interviewed 
had no trade (Table 7). They were unskilled workers. Some in- 
dividuals claimed as trades 5 occupations which they had followed 

-The widely varied trades e'a'mcd were classified as fallows: 

(a) Agriculture: Any type of farm work, nursery work, animal husbandry. 

(b) Fishing: Deep-sea fishing, oystering. 
jfc) Mining, quarrying (of coal or stone). 

(d) Manufacturing (non metals) : Of food, tobacco and textile products, shoes, includ- 
ing mechanical trades in such factories. 

(e) Mechanical industries and construction : Manufacture of metal products, machine 
shop work, building trades, mechanical trades not essentially connected with another in- 
dustry. 

(f) Transportation : Highway, rail, water. 

(g) Mercantile trade: Store workers, delivei ymen. etc. 
(b) Professional service and engineering. 

(ii Domestic and personal service. Household, hotel and restaurant work, barber, 
bootblack, etc. 



TBUCK-FABM LABOR IX NEW JERSEY, 1922 



21 



somewhat regularly but which had required little or no preliminary 
training or apprenticeship corresponding to that usually preceding 
engagement in a trade. As would be expected in a highly indus- 
trialized section of the country, two-thirds of the trades claimed 
were connected with industrial occupations, mercantile trade, and 
transportation. 

The average age at which the farm employees interviewed began 
to earn was 13.6 years for both native and foreign born. Almost 
half started work at from 12 to 15 years of age. Most of those who 
started working so young doubtless worked only during the summer 
vacations of schools, and their ages were higher when they began 
to work steadily. The average age at beginning such summer work 
was 10.7 years in the cases of 138 minors interviewed in this study, 
ranging from 5 years up. 

Table 7. — Trades learned or occupations habitually followed by farm 

employees 



Type of trade 


American born 


Foreign born 


All employees 




Number 
386 


Per cent 


Number 
134 


Per cent 


Number 
520 


Per cent 










None — employees 18 years of age or older 


211 

21 

2 

2 

21 

38 

8 

2 

5 

4 


67.2 

6.7 

.6 

.6 

6.7 

12.1 

2.6 

.6 

1.6 

1.3 


116 
13 


70.3 
7.9 


327 
34 
2 
3 

35 
53 
9 
5 
5 
6 


68.3 


Agriculture .. . ... 


7.1 


Fishing.. ... . 


.4 


Mining, quarrying. . ... .. 


1 

14 

15 

1 

3 


.6 
8.5 
9.1 

.6 
1.8 


.6 


Manufacturing (nonmetals) ... _ 


7.3 


Mechanical industries and construction... 
Transportation.. 


11.1 
1.9 


Mercantile trade. . 


1.0 


Professional service and engineering 


1.0 


Domestic and personal service. 


2 


1.2 


1.3 






Total, employees 18 years of age or 
older only considered 


314 


100.0 


165 


100.0 


479 


100.0 



The various kinds of work G in which he had engaged in his life- 
time was reported by each farm worker interviewed (Table 8; see 
also fig. 7). Practically all had engaged in unskilled farm labor; 
about one in twelve had been in skilled agricultural work; one- 
fourth had done industrial unskilled work and one-eighth had 
done industrial skilled work. One man in five had worked as a 
common laborer. Business of some kind had engaged 1 in 10. 
American born and foreign born seemed to have had very similar 
occupational experiences. The adult foreign born apparently had 
engaged more often in unskilled work. The recent occupational 
experience of the same persons had been much the same as during 

The method of classification of occupations differs somewhat from that used in dis- 
cussing trades learned and is as follows : 

(a) Common labor: Nonagricultural unskilled labor (largely nonindustrial). 

(b) Agriculture, unskilled, such as farm hand, teamster, dairyman. 

(c) Agriculture, skilled: Farm operator (as owner or tenant), farm manager; special- 
izing workers, such as skilled orchardists or nursery workers. 

(d) Industrial work, unskilled: Common labor in industrial plants, garages, lumber 
camps, etc. 

(e) Industrial work, skilled : Trades largely industrial and mechanical. 

(f ) Business, clerical : Employee or clerk in trade or offices. 

(g) Business, administrative : Managerial work, either as owner or managing employee 
in trade or office. 

(h) National service (American or foreign) : Army. Navy, municipal, civil. 
(i) Marine : Sea-faring, deep-sea fishing, oyster ing. 

(j) Domestic and personal service: Housewife, hotel or restaurant workers, barber, 
bootblack. 

(k) Professional service : Professional athlete, nurse, scientific work. 



22 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



their whole working life, though with somewhat reduced individual 
variety. 

Two-fifths of the women had engaged in domestic work during 
their lifetime and one-fourth in industrial work. Many of them 
were still in their teens, but many others were older and married. 

Table 8. — Comparative lifetime and recent occupational history of farm em- 
ployees — Number of American bom and foreign born and women ever 
engaged in each of certain occupations 





Occupation 


Part of occupational history and 


u 

c 

c 
o 

a 
a 

o 
D 


Agriculture 


Industry 


Business 


GO 

O 

ea 




-r s> 

rt "F 

co — 

0| 

o z 


~ 


class of workers 


© 

a 




3 

C 


J5 

CO 


o 

5 


■!r. 

< 


- CO 

— o 


LIFETIME HISTORY 

American born (497 cases) : 

Number of persons 


105 
21.1 

55 
29.6 




160 
23.4 

65 


497 


42 


135 
27.2 

58 
31.2 

13 
23.6 

193 
28.3 

81 
16.9 

30 
16.1 

114 

16.7 


68 
13.7 

33 

17. 7 

2 
3.6 

101 
14.8 

43 
9.1 

21 
11.3 

66 
9.7 


54 
10.9 

16 
8.6 




70 
10.2 

23 
5.2 

3.8 

33 

4.8 


4 
0.8 

1 
0.5 

1 
1.8 

0.7 

3 

0.6 

1 

0.5 

4 
0.6 


26 
5.2 

9 
4.8 




35 
5.1 

13 
2.6 

3 
1.6 

16 
2.3 


18 
3.6 

1 

0.5 




27 
5.4 

29 
15.6 

99 




Percentage of all cases 

Foreign born (186 cases): 

Number of persons 


100.0 
185 


8.5 
12 


1.4 

o 


Percentage of all cases 

Ail women (55 cases) : 

Number of persons.. 


99. 5 6. 5 

55 
100.0 

682 54 




d 


Percentage of all cases 

All farm employees (C83 cases) : 


40. 

19 [ 56 
2. 8 8. 2 

12 19 




7 


Percentage of all cases 

RECENT HISTORY 

January, 1919, to summer of 1922 

American born (497 cases) : 

Number of persons .. . 


99.9 

<80 

93.6 

183 
98.4 

663 
97. 1 


7.9 

39 

7.8 

12 
6.5 

51 
7.5 


1.0 

4 


Percentage of all cases 

Foreign born (186 cases) : 


13.1 

38 
20.4 

103 

15. 1 


2.4 




12 

1.8 


2.4 

9 

4.8 

21 
3.1 


0.8 



Percentage of all cases 

All farm employees (683 cases) : 




4 


Percentage of all cases 


0.6 



Table 9. — Comparatire lifetime and recent occupational liistory of farm 
employees — Numbers of farm employees ever engaged in certain occupations 
or groups of occupations in civil life, exclusively and nonexclusively of other 
occupations 



Occupations in which employees engaged 



Exclusively: 

Agriculture, unskilled. 

Agriculture, skilled 

Agriculture, both skilled and unskilled. 

Agriculture unskilled and industry unskilled 

Agriculture unskilU-d and industry skilled 

Unskilled work only, any type 

Skilled work only, any type 

As well as frequently in others: 

Agriculture and industry (one or both types of each) 

Skilled work, any type 

Skilled work, any type other than agriculture skilled 



Lifetime history 



Recent history 
(January. 1919, to 
summer of 1922) 



Number 


Pir cent 


Number 


261 


38.2 


366 


1 


0.1 


15 


24 


3.5 


22 


71 


10.4 


68 


31 


4.5 


35 


531 


77.7 


550 


1 


0. 1 


17 


260 


38.1 


168 


152 


22.3 


117 


109 


16.0 


73 



Per cent 
53.6 

2.2 

3.2 
10.0 

5.1 
80.5 

2.5 

24.6 
17.1 
10.7 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IX NEW JERSEY, 192: 



23 



The numbers of farm workers who had ever in their lifetime, or 
recently since 1918, engaged in certain occupations or groups of 
occupations are given in Table 9. (See also fig. 8.) The interplay 
of labor demands and of occupational opportunities, some of them 
seasonal and cyclical, keeps many workers shifting more or less in 
spite of themselves in such a State as New Jersey, Consequently it is 



Percentages of 683 Farm Employees Who Had Engaged in Certain Occupations or Groups of 
Occupations in Civil Life, Exclusively and Nonexclusively of Other Occupations 



PER CENT 
40 60 



100 



EXCLUSIVE 

(OFOTHER OCCUPATIONS) 

agriculture: 

UNSKILLED 



AGRICULTURE 
SKILLED 



AGRICULTURE 
SKILLED AND 
UNSKILLED 



AGRICULTURE 
UNSKILLED AND 
INDUSTRY UNSKILLED 



AGRICULTURE 

UNSKILLED AND 

INDUSTRY SKILLED 



ANY TYPE, 

UNSKILLED WORK 

ONLY 



ANY TYPE, 
SKILLED WORK ONLY 



NON-EXCLUSIVE 

(of other occupations) 
AGRICULTURE 
AND INDUSTRY 

(skilled op unskilled op both) 



SKILLED WORK, 
ANY TYPE 



SKILLED WORK, 

ANY TYPE OTHER 

THAN AGRICULTURE 




Pecent/u 

(JAM., /S/S - SUUHEf? or 1922 J 

Pig. 8. — Farm employees, as a whole, are unskilled laborers. Four-fifths of those inter- 
viewed in this study had never engaged in skilled, responsible work ; two-fifths had 
done nothing except farm work 

noteworthy that even though large numbers of minors of limited 
experience were included nearly two in five had never engaged in 
anything except agriculture, also that over half had done no other 
kind of work since 1918. The dependence of Xew Jersey agriculture 
upon other industries for workers and the dependence of agricultural 
workers upon other employment part of the time are shown by the 



24 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OE AGRICULTURE 

fact that nearly half the workers had recently engaged in other than 
farm work. The caliber of the workers is emphasized by the fact 
that three-fourths of them had never engaged in skilled or respon- 
sible work of any kind. 

Previous to the jobs on which they were found and since 1918 three- 
fifths of the farm workers interviewed had been employed only in 
the townships in which they were met or in others near by : 1 in 6 
had worked elsewhere in Xew Jersey, and 1 in 10 in the cities of 
Philadelphia or Xew York. Only occasional persons had been be- 
yond those limits. The foreign born seemed to have moved about 
somewhat more than the native born. This movement appears to 
have consisted partly in the seasonal migratory movement of some of 
them between cities and farms. 

Practically two-thirds of the American-born and half of the 
foreign-born farm workers gave apparently reliable and complete in- 
formation concerning the number of jobs of any nature they had 
held since 1918. including some begun before 1919. Four hundred 
and nine persons had averaged practically two jobs each. The aver- 
age time per job. 24.7 months, seems high, but many of this class 
had had comparatively steady employment. The foreign born had 
averaged distinctly longer on their jobs than had the native born. 

Sixty-six of the 409 persons were holding their first jobs, all 
begun since 1918 and usually begun in 1922. Xearly all of this class 
were under 21 years of age. Eighty-nine persons had been working 
on the same jobs since 1918 or earlier; 20 of these were still on their 
first jobs, and had averaged over 11 years on them. Two hundred and 
seventy persons could give only a partial list of their jobs since 1918. 
On such jobs as they did report they had averaged 9.2 months. 
The true average would be decidedly lower, because many persons 
had held so many short jobs they could not attempt to enumerate 
them. Most of this class were evidently day laborers who had had 
a succession of seasonal jobs within a locality or who could expect 
little permanent employment. The foreign-born workers of this 
group evidenced less stability of employment than the native born. 

Six out of seven of the farm workers interviewed reported that 
since 1918 they had not been out of work when they wanted it. 
These, of course, included minors, most of whom were attending 
school a large part of the year and some women who devoted them- 
selves to home duties most of the year. Xinety-three persons re- 
ported 118 instances of unemployment, over half of which occurred 
in 1921. Eighty-five of them gave the average amount of time idle 
as 7.6 months, or about 2 months a year. About three-fifths of the 
periods of idleness were from 3 to 5 months each. Most of the 
workers spent their idle time in or near the places where they had 
been employed. 

Laborer's reasons for leaving their jobs are often colored to con- 
ceal real reasons, especially if they were at fault leading to dis- 
charge. In three-fourths of the cases they reported that they were 
t brown out of work by the close of the season, referring especially 
to agriculture: and that the jobs for which they were engaged were 
finished, or that work was slack, referring largely to industrial work. 
The last reason was the most common and applied principally to 
1921. a year of national industrial depression. In fact, over half 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



25 



the instances of loss of work occurred in that year. Workers re- 
ported leaving of their own accord and for such reasons as offers of 
better pay elsewhere or for a change much less often than they 
were thrown out of work. Dissatisfaction with working conditions 
was seldom mentioned. 



EARNINGS AND SAVINGS 



Information was asked of the farm employees as to their cash 
earnings in 1921 from all sources and from agriculture, ai i a the 
amounts from their earnings which they furnished their faLdies 
in that year (Table 10). The replies given were largely estimates 
and took no account of perquisites, which, in many instances, may 
have been of decided value; as, for instance, in the cases of per- 
sons boarded by their employers. About a third of the farm em- 
ployees, when interviewed, were receiving board in addition to cash 
payments. 

The work at which these earnings had been made was in three 
cases out of five farm work only ; one-fourth as many more had en- 
gaged in other work also. The work other than agriculture was 
largely common labor or industrial work. 



Table 10. — Cash earnings in 1921 of farm- employees interviewed in 1922 



Cash earnings and persons earning or sharing 



Ameri- 
can born 


Foreign 
born 


361 
$566. 68 


133 

$686. 88 


117 
$797. 21 


51 
$785. 76 


106 

392 

$854 31 

$231.01 


45 

201 

$813. 98 

$182. 23 


13.0 
30.7 
48.2 
64.3 
84.8 
95.0 


3.0 
18.0 
36.8 
60.9 
77.4 
93.2 


303 
$446. 30 


91 
$500.91 


185 

$552. 85 

$15 to 

$4,000 


56 

$620. 50 

$40 to 

$3,000 



All em- 
ployees 



From all sources: 

All laborers — 

Number reporting 

Average 

Heads of families- 
Number reporting 

Average 

Heads of families and their dependents — 

Number of families reporting 

Total number family membeis 

Average per family -_ 

Average per family member 

Percentage of all emplovees who reported less than— • 

$100 

$300 

$500 

$700 

$1,000 

$1,500 

From agriculture : 

Number reporting 

Average 

Furnished families (for their support): 

Number reporting 

Average 

Range of earnings (from all sources, from agriculture, furnished families) 



494 
$599. 04 



168 



$793. 

151 
593 

$842.29 
$214. 48 

10.3 
27.3 
45.1 
63.4 
82.8 
94.5 

394 
$458.91 

241 

$568.57 

$15 to 

$4, 000 



The average, amount of money received from all sources by all 
workers reporting averaged just under $600 for the year. The 
foreign born earned on the average $120 more than the native-born 
worker. This is accounted for by the fact that so large a proportion 
of the native born were very young or in school and earned but 
little. Most of the foreign born were adults working steadily. The 
miners were largely included among those earning less than $300. 
Those under 20 years of age earned an average of about three- 
sevenths as much as did those older, and it is probable that a smaller 



26 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

proportion of them received perquisites. If those under 20 years of 
age in 1921 are eliminated from consideration, the earnings of Ameri- 
can born and foreign born are about the same, averaging for all 
about $730 for the year. 

The earnings of heads of families averaged about $790. or about 
$60 more than for all over 20 years of age. Individual dependents 
often add materially to family earnings, although the average sum 
adde^l thereby was approximately only $50 per family. The cash 
earj jd by the working members provided an average of $211.18 for 
th iewi penses of every member of those families from which complete 
re! li "-s were obtained. For families in which the heads were foreign 
boxR T cash earnings ran only four-fifths as high as for those of the 
American born, because the average earnings of dependents were 
smaller and the families averaged nearly one person larger. 

Such limited earnings, despite any probable additional value of 
perquisites, necessitate the strictest economy in family expenditures. 
There can be left little or no money for family comforts, recreation, 
or advancement, according to reasonable American standards of life. 
Such economic disadvantages force families of such low earning 
power to put their women and children to work to supplement the 
earnings of the father. 

The remunerative work in which the wives of the farm workers 
interviewed had engaged in 1921 was in nearly half the cases domes- 
tic or personal service. Nearly as many had clone farm work, and a 
few industrial work. The occupations of the children were slightly 
more varied; about half were in farm work and a quarter each in 
industrial work or domestic and personal service. Practically all 
wives were considered wholly dependent upon their husbands for 
support, even though occasionally earning; three wives of American 
born were partially self-supporting. Three-fourths of the workers' 
children were wholly dependent upon their parents for support. A 
slightly larger percentage of the children of foreign-born than of 
native-born workers were found to be earning something. They 
were usually forced to work by the family need for more money than 
the father could earn. 

Considerable difficulty was found in getting estimates of the earn- 
ings of workers' dependents. The earnings, especially of younger 
children and wives, were frequently pooled with those of the family 
when farmers paid them off. and thus were unknown. In the cases 
of 58 dependents reported, the average amount earned by each from 
all sources was $218.19. The wives earned an average of $183.45, 
about half of it in farm work: the children earned $252.93, nearly 
all in agriculture. Most of these earnings were turned into the 
family funds. 

Farm employees were asked if they had bank accounts, life insur- 
ance, and title to real estate. Values or amounts were not asked. 
(Table 11.) Three persons in 10 who reported had no savings what- 
ever. Half had life insurance, the most commonly reported form of 
savings; two-thirds of the interviewed children of the ages 8 to 15 
had been insured by their parents. One-third of the workers had 
bank accounts, usually savings accounts. One in 10 held title to real 
estate. The real estate owned varied in character from city dwell- 
ings in Pennsylvania or New Jersey to cheap farm lands in Southern 






TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN XEW JERSEY, 19: 



27 



States. In about half the instances at least gardens were grown on 
the land, but in most such cases there seemed to be no opportunity 
for producing any large pail of the family food needs. About one 
person in four had two or more types of savings. A somewhat larger 
proportion of American born than of foreign born had saved. 

Table 11. — Savings and property of farm employees 



Kind of savings 


American 
born 


Foreign 
born 


All 
laborers 




129 
55 

170 
8 
89 
10 
10 
1G 


7G 
24 
32 
11 
18 

3 
10 

7 


205 




79 


Life insurance 


202 




19 




107 




13 




20 


Bank amounts, life insurance, and real estate 


23 






Total 


487 


181 


668 







PLANS FOR THE FUTURE 

Two-thirds of the farm employees manifested a general liking for 
farm work, half of whom gave no reasons for it other than that they 
liked the work. Others gave such reasons as preference for outdoor 
life, healthfulness of the work, and cheaper living expenses in the 
country. One-fifth of the workers had little or no liking for farm 
work, giving reasons such as that it was too hard and dirty, that em- 
ployment in it was unsteady in winter, that its pay was low, and 
that it held no future for an ambitious person. Some had distinct 
preferences for other work. Some workers expressed a qualified 
liking for farm work. For some it was a preferred summer occu- 
pation, and a few had found that it and other occupations made good 
combinations for earning a living. 

Two-thirds of those interviewed had no ambition to rent or own 
and operate a farm. An occasional employee liked agricultural 
work and intended to stay in it, but considered he had a good 
reason for not caring to own, such as the seeming impossibility of 
saving sufficient capital with which to begin farm operations. One 
man of apparent intelligence very definitely preferred to remain a 
farm hand rather than to incur a farm operator's risks. A few per- 
sons were found who hoped to achieve tenure to the extent of renting 
farm land. One person in 12 who reported hoped to become a farm 
tenant and to use that stage of tenure as a stepping stone to actual 
farm ownership. Twice as many hoped to become owners without 
first becoming tenants. 

In most of the cases of persons hoping to become farm owners, 
the expectations were to reach the goal by saving mone} 7 with which 
to acquire title. Only seldom did anyone hope to borrow the money 
with which to start. Occasionally a person claimed to have on hand 
sufficient money or already owned land with which to start farming 
when a favorable opportunity presented itself. 

One-third of those interviewed, and old enough to have some idea 
of what they preferred to do for a living, stated they intended to 



28 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

stay in agricultural work, most of them (especially the foreign born) 
to keep on as farm hands. Nearly one-third of the group intended 
to leave farm work, most of them either to return to work in which 
they had previously been engaged or to enter industrial employment. 
Almost as many had no idea whether they would stick to agricul- 
ture for a living or not. Many of this group were youngsters still in 
school and whose principal interests still lay in finishing their educa- 
tion. The adults were willing to go wherever wages and working 
conditions most attracted them. 

FARM WORKING CONDITIONS 

The working day for employees considered in this study averaged 
10.2 hours in summer. 8.1 hours in winter. Working days on dairy 
farms averaged the longest both in summer and in winter. For 
summer work the 10-hour day was required on practically half the 
farms. The 9, 11, and 12 hour days were about equally common, 
each being reported by about one-eighth of the farms. In Salem 
County as many farmers were requiring in the summer days of 11 
or 12 hours as of 10 hours. On over half of the reporting farms the 
work day in winter was 8 or 9 hours. On the others it varied greatly. 

" Daylight saving," the summer advancement of local time one 
hour ahead of standard time, was general in the largely industrial 
northern part of the State, but in the predominantly agricultural 
sections to the south the use of. standard time prevailed. " Daylight 
saving" is disliked by farmers because it so frequently necessitates 
working at a disadvantage in the wet of the early forenoon and 
losing one of the late afternoon hours most valuable of any in the 
day for much work, Even in northern Xew Jersey farmers in many 
rural localities were working their help on standard time in spite 
of the difficulties with those who preferred to work on " daylight 
saving " time as did nonagricultural workers in the vicinity. 

The six-day week was the rule among farmers reporting. A few 
farmers granted their employees Saturday afternoon off. Eegard- 
less of the time worked by day or season hands, pieceworkers were 
often willing to work much longer on week days and also on Sunday 
in order to increase their earnings. On the other hand, on many 
clavs there was little or no chance to work because of weather or crop 
conditions. 

About one-third of the Xew Jersey farmers ordinarily expect no 
help from their employees on Sunday: half of them expect some 
employees to do chores; a few need help preparing loads for Monday 
market. Much the same is true of holiday work expected. Some 
farmers and some farm hands, more usually the foreign born, pay 
little attention to American holidays, especially when farm work is 
crowding. 

WAGES 

Farmers in some districts in 1921 and 1922 attempted to stabilize 
farm-wage rates by setting a scale of wages through the county 
boards of agriculture before the farming season opened. The fol- 
lowing j~ a copy of the wage recommendations of the Gloucester 
C< unty Board < i' Agriculture in 1922: 



TRUCK-FARM JLABOK IN NEW JERSEY, lit: 



29 



The following recommendations are the outcome of the sectional meet- 
ings held for the purpose of discussing this question. Farmers are urged 
to use them as a basis in hiring help, as they did last year. These 
recommendations apply to Italians and other help. 

Hour wage : Men, 20 cents per hour ; women, 15 cents per hour. 

Potatoes : Not to exceed 2 cents per basket. 7 

Tomatoes, can house : Not to exceed 2 cents per basket. 

Early tomatoes : Not to exceed 3^ cents per basket in field. 

Early tomatoes : Fag end of crop, 2% cents per basket. 

Cut asparagus : Not to exceed 35 cents per crate. 

Cut and bunch asparagus : Not to exceed 65 cents per crate. 

Peppers : Not to exceed 2y 2 cents per basket or hamper. 

Pick strawberries : Not to exceed 2 cents per quart. 

Crating and supervision: Not to exceed y 2 cent added to above. 

Top onions : Not to exceed 3 cents per basket in the field. 

Bunch scullions : Not to exceed 25 cents per 100 bunches. 

Beans and large peas : Not to exceed 12% cents per basket. 

Early peas : Not to exceed 15 cents per basket. 

Single men by the month : $25 and board. 

Married men by week : $10 to $12 and house rent free. 

This scale was intended to be what the farmers considered a fair 
wage for each type of work, and it was hoped that employers would 
insist upon workers accepting the rates set. The scale furnished a 
basis for bargaining at the first of the season, but in 1922 the farmers 
soon found the expected labor supply was not forthcoming at these 
rates. By July wages had risen in all cases and in some piecework 
labor actual payments were over double those set in the wage scale. 
Moreover, some farmers were found employing workers whose rates 
of pay had not been set, and which would doubtless not be set until 
toward the end of the season. 

For work at other than harvest season, men's day wages averaged 
$2.58 without board ; $2.50 was the wage most commonly paid. The 
few wage rates reported for women and minors averaged about $1 
less. Farmers boarded very few casual male farm hands at this time, 
and no women or minors. 

During harvest (see Table 12) men's day wages without board went 
up 60 cents to an average of $3.18; the most common rates were $2.50 
or $3. Many farmers boarded help at harvest time. The most com- 
mon day- wage rates with board were $3, but some reporting farmers 
paid less, bringing the average down to $2.50. There was an increase 
of wages at harvest time for women and minors ; farmers then occa- 
sionally boarded these workers. These reports were in general sup- 
ported by those of the employees themselves. 

Table 12. — Day icages at harvest, with and without board, for men, loomen, 
and minors on farms in New Jersey, 1922, as reported by employing 
farmers 



Class of employees 


. Type of farm 


General 


Truck 


Dairy 


Fruit 


Potato 


All farms 


Men without board: 

Number of reports. 


53 
$3. 28 
$3.00 

45 
$2. 64 


59 
$3.05 
$3.00 

17 
$2. 04 
$3.00 


$3.40 
$3.00 

2 
$3.00 


27 
$2. 67 
$2.50 

1 
$3.00 


4 
$6.93 


148 


Average wage . . 


$3. 18 


Most common wage... 


$2. 50 or $3. 00 


Men with board: 

Number of reports 





65 


Average wage.. .. 


$2.50 






$3.00 















Basket equals five-eighths bushel. 



30 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

Table 12. — Day icages at harvest, icith and tvithout board, etc. — Continued 



Class of employees 



Women without board: 

Number of reports. . 

Average wage 

Most common wage- 
Women with board: 1 

Number of reports. . 

Average wage 

Minors without board: 

Number of reports. . 

Average wage 

Most common wage. 
Minors with board: 1 

Number of reports. . 

Average wage _ 



Type of farm 



General Truck Dairy Fruit Potato All farms 



15 

$2.58 



7 
$2.13 



$1.59 



$1.38 



38 

$2.68 
$2.50 

3 
$2.33 

43 

$1.85 



2 

$0.92 



2 
$1.34j, 



$2.23 
$2.00 



1 
$2.00 



11 

$1. 60 



1 
$1.50 



1 
$6.00 



2 

$5.75 



73 

$2 59 

$2. 00 or $2. 50 

11 
$2.17 

67 
$1.88 
$1.50 



$1.29 



1 Figures for most common wage can not be given because of the small number of cases reported. 

Many pieceworkers, including adults, at times earned much less 
than average day wages, in some cases as low as $1 per day. 

The farmer's method of reckoning and payment of wages to 
casual labor was usually by the day or piecework. Each of these 
methods was used exclusively by one-fourth of the farmers report- 
ing. Tw T o-fifths of farmers used one of these methods together with 
some other method, such as by the hour, week, or month, but the 
last was seldom used. The method used varied somewhat with the 
type of farm, kind of work, and district. Alone, or with another 
method, piecework payment was the most common method em- 
ployed on truck and potato farms. In fact it' was used on all of the 
potato farms. Day rates were the rule on general farms and hour 
rates on fruit farms, but piecework rates were common on both. 
Piecework and hour rates were frequently necessary because of the 
irregularity of work. Migratory families working on piecework 
were often paid as a whole. Payment was made to the head of the 
family, or, sometimes in the case of Italians, through the padrone. 

Regardless of the method their employers used in figuring it, 
three-fifths of the employees who gave information upon the sub- 
ject stated they received their pay Aveekly; one-fifth were paid 
monthly. A few were paid daily, every two weeks or twice a month, 
on request or at the end of the job or season for which they were 
engaged. This last method applied especially to pieceworkers in 
harvest. 

The practices of determining payments and of paying farm work- 
ers at the end of the season sometimes cause trouble. Farmers and 
employees occasionally do not or can not agree on the amounts the 
latter have earned; or at the end of a season of poor financial re- 
turns, the farmers may actually have difficulty in raising the money 
necessary to pay off their help. It sometimes takes the intervention 
of a third party to straighten matters out, especially if the workers 
are more or less illiterate foreign born. 

Noncasual wage rates by the month for male farm hands averaged 
$67.26 without board. The most common rate reported was $65 per 
month. Wage rates with board for the same workers averaged $41.38 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 31 

per month; rates of $30 or $40 were equally common and together 
made up a third of the reports. In southern New Jersey both wage 
rates tended to drop below the State average. Xo decided differences 
in wage rates were shown between different types of farms. 

Payment of wages to noncasual hands was usually by the month, 
though often by the week. Occasionally in harvest season a farmer 
had to change the usual method to a piecework basis to make the 
employee's wages equal to those paid casual workers. 

The wages of foremen were usually quoted without board and the 
average rate was $97.40 per month : with board, $72.54 was the 
average. In half the cases actual wages were lower than the average, 
often decidedly so. Perquisites given were frequently of consider- 
able additional value. 

An occasional farmer was found to be paying a bonus or making 
other inducements of value to encourage greater efficiency or to hold 
his workers. Sometimes this took the form of an extra cash payment- 
ranging from $50 to $100 at the end of the season or year to those 
who remained on the job. The practice of paying a higher wage 
rate to the more efficient workers was occasionally reported. Pay- 
ment of wages upon a piecework basis was sometimes made for the 
same purpose. Occasionally a bonus system based upon a percent- 
age of farm profits was reported. 

PERQUISITES 

The majority of hired farm workers received no perquisites in 
addition to their wages. Those received varied considerably, accord- 
ing to type of laborers employed, kind of farm upon which they were 
working, and local custom. Local American laborers sometimes re- 
ceived perquisites denied foreign-born or casual workers. On the 
other hand, as they were often at a distance from home the casual 
workers had to have rough shelters and limited privileges. General 
farmers could often supply a variety of farm products to their em- 
ployees in contrast to specializing farmers, who could frequently 
supply much less. 

Few reporting farmers in the districts studied gave perquisites to 
day laborers; car fares or transportation constituted most of those 
reported. Some farmers gave one or two meals daily. 

The interviewed farm employees included both day hands and 
month hands. The latter received perquisites more frequently than 
did the former. As a whole, almost half of the workers reported 
that they received perquisites, three out of five of whom received 
board and room; laundry work as done in the farm home was in- 
cluded half the time that rooms were provided by employers. In 
Gloucester and Monmouth Counties the giving of a room without 
board was not uncommon, apprying mostly to harvest labor and to 
foreign-born labor in particular. 

One-fourth of the farmers reporting upon the item gave rent of 
some house (fig. 9) or shack (fig. 10) to employees and valued this 
privilege at an average of $13.43 monthly. The range of such values 
from $3 to $50 indicates the wide variety of these accommodations. 
Values were decidedly below the average in southern New Jersey and 
were highest near Xew York City. 



32 



BULLETIN 1285, l\ S. DEPARTMENT OF AGEK'ULTL'EE 



About one farmer in six gave fuel as a perquisite to some em- 
ployees. "Where a value was placed on it the average was $5.67 per 
month. 

Milk was given less frequently as a perquisite. Its value as esti- 
mated by the farmers reflected local conditions. In southern Xew 
Jerse}^, more distant from large consuming centers, its farm value 
was not over half that near New York. The average value from all 
reports was $4.10 per month. 

The average monthly value of fruit and vegetables given em-, 
ployees was reported as $5.06. Many farmers gave their workers con- 
siderable quantities of their products to say nothing of what the 
workers frequently took for themselves. Many migratory hands get 
most of their food in this way while Irving on the farms. 




Fig. 0. — Unusually good class of modern cottage for noncasual farm employees. One 
farmer had built two of these dwellings for his American year-round help as a means 
of holding a good class of labor. These farm homes and their surroundings were 
equal to those of many farm operators' homes in that part of the State. Each was 
occupied by a single family 

The remaining perquisites reported were varied in nature and 
value. 

LIVING CONDITIONS 



Occasionally farmers gave their men what they needed of the farms' 
products to prepare their own meals. Over half of the farmers re- 
porting upon the subject boarded part or all their noncasual single 
farm hands in their own homes and provided them with sleeping- 
quarters which varied from decent rooms in farm houses to the most 
meager accommodations in farm shacks or outbuildings. Casual 
laborers get poor accommodations more often than noncasuals. Oc- 
casionally the character of laborers hired for casual work such as 
potato picking in Monmouth County is such that some farmers will 
not allow them to stay on the farms overnight. They are then forced 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 



33 



to hunt shelter even in box cars on more or less distant railroad 
sidings. Sanitary accommodations were available to the farm hands 
on two-thirds of farms reporting on the matter. Half of these were 
separate from farm family accommodations. Farmers in southern 
New Jersey reported providing each type of accommodation :?aore 
commonly than those in northern Xew Jersey. 

Very few farmers reported providing shelter or other accommo- 
dations for families forming part of casual and occasionally of non- 
casual farm labor. Almost no farmers boarded those families. On 
the other hand, such families were likely to take for themselves what 
they needed of the farm crops. Sleeping quarters for them were 
usually in farm outbuildings or shacks which afforded the most 
meager accommodations. Into them one or more families, usually 
foreign born, with their children, were crowded with little or no 




Fig. 10. — Shack occupied by an Italian couple employed as casual farm hands. This 
shack was used by a married Italian couple of an intelligent and well-Americanized 
type. Cooking was done on the old range under the shelter. The place was neat 
and clean. If it had not been that ill health prevented the husband's working at his 
usual occupation, this couple would never have left the city. This place offered them 
little inducement to remain on the farm 

chance for privacy and comfort (fig. 11) . In some cases only a board 
set on edge marked off family spaces on the floor where straw and 
rough bedding were laid, whereas in other cases rough curtains were 
used. Old bedsteads were occasionally furnished. Some farmers 
had special shacks for such labor, others cleared out parts of'barns 
or tool sheds which were used for other purposes most of the year. 
Little protection is needed against heat or cold most of the time 
these workers are on the farms. Usually there was no protection 
against flies or mosquitoes, which are often very troublesome. Cook- 
ing facilities, often inadequate for the number using them, were 
sometimes afforded by old ranges set under the sheds or rough shelters 
or even in the open. At other times the workers had to construct 
rough open-air fireplaces from materials they could pick up. Water 



34 



BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 



the workers washed themselves and their clothing and dishes, and 
near which waste water was thrown. Sanitary facilities such as 
privies were sometimes conspicuous by their absence, and when found 
were usually primitive and inconveniently located with reference to 
the buildings the workers occupied. 

Some employees were beginning to resent the necessity of using 
such limited accomodations, and some farmers recognized that better 
quarters were desirable and provided them (fig. 12) for foreign- 
born casual labor as well as for noncasual Americans. 

For the families of married men living on the farms where they 
were employed, farmers not infrequently reported providing frame 
houses or cottages. These varied in type from old to comparatively 
new. Some were in poor repair. Conveniences furnished varied 
greatly. Some of the houses had been turned over to the farm hands 
by their employers who had built new and better houses for theni- 




Fig. 11. — Shack occupied by several families of migratory Italian farm hands. Several 
families were living in this small 1-room shack on the edge of an orchard. Cooking 
was done outdoors, on a piece of sheet iron over a crude arch of stones which shows 
in the center and heyond the brush pile. (The man in the center was one of the 
party making- the study) 

selves. In a few cases farmers had built dwellings as a means of 
securing and holding a good type of noncasual labor. (See fig. 9.) 
Most farmers who provided their workers with houses gave them 
also garden space or such of farm products as were needed. The 
privilege of keeping small livestock, or a cow or a horse, or garage 
space; was occasionally granted. 

RECREATION AND SOCIAL STANDING 

The opportunity to get away from the farm to neighbors, town, 
church, or school, to find change of surroundings or to trade, is a 
matter of consideration for the contentment of farm employees as 
well as for the farm operator. Farm hands often let such con- 
sideration determine whether or not they will take a job, especially 
if their families arc to accompany them. The average distance of the 
farms in this study from town or usual trading center was 1.9 miles; 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IX NEW JERSEY, 1922 



35 



from church 1.4 miles 1 ; and from school 1.1 miles; from nearest 
neighbor, 0.14 mile. Half the farms lav within 1.5 miles of town, 1 
mile of church and school, and practically all within a quarter of a 
mile of a neighbor. 

Nearly half of the farms lay on or near the routes of regular public 
conveyances, such as electric railroads or motor busses. Persons 
on the remaining farms were dependent upon their own means of 
travel. Occasionally farm employees had vehicles of their own, but 
in most cases the only way they could get about was to wait until 
they could ride with their employers or with some one else. 

Over half of the farms were within easy reach of town or city 
public amusements. Most of these forms of recreation and sport, 
however, are typically American and to some extent are not available 




Fig. 12. — New summer cabins of improved type for migratory Italian farm hands. A 
farmer, recognizing the need for decent quarters for the families of Italians working 
for him in summer, was erecting these cabins, each intended for a single family. 
Each structure was to be 14 by 39 feet and to contain three rooms with board floors. 
These cabins would furnish accommodations decidedly better than were usually pro- 
vided for migratory labor 

to the foreign born, because of the barriers of language differences 
and lack of inclination or ability to take part in them. There was 
no form of recreation for farm employees available within easy reach 
of a fourth of the farms. Sometimes there were not even others of 
their class with whom to associate. In southern New Jersey, com- 
munity baseball clubs furnished frequent opportunity for diversion 
for all classes of American born. 

Half of the farmers pass on to their farm hands part or all of the 
reading matter they take, especially daily papers; but this source of 
diversion is not used by those unable to read English or by a few who 
take no interest in reading. 

The social position of most farm hands in the families of their 
employers and in the communities in which they worked was usually 
respectable, especially if they were residents. Very seldom was it 



36 BULLETIN 1285, U. S. DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

considered poor. Class distinction was frequently made, based upon 
such fundamentals as color, nationality, or the fact that workers 
were transients. 

Class distinctions in the southern New Jersey farm family seem 
less marked than in that of the northern part of the State. In the 
former section farm help shares the family life much more than in 
the latter, partly owing to the necessity of boarding labor which 
could not otherwise be secured and kept at a distance from home. 
This characteristic was reflected in the family attitude toward chil- 
dren taken from charitable institutions. The southern New Jersey 
family usually referred to these children as " ours " or " one of us " ; 
only questioning brought out their true status. In northern New 
Jersey, on the other hand, the distinction was commonly noted as a 
matter of course. 

SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT OF THE FARM LABOR SITUA- 
TION 

Demand was found among New Jersey farmers for more and 
cheaper labor, which generally means lower standards of living and 
intelligence. However, intelligence is becoming more and more 
needful in farm operations. In the increasing use of machinery and 
need for care in producing and preparing perishable farm products 
for market, for instance, there is less and less opportunity for igno- 
rant, unskilled workers. 

Seme farmers complained that the labor obtainable for agriculture 
is the scum of all labor; they added that if they could get a better 
class of help they would be willing to pay higher wages for it. It 
has been demonstrated in practice that if farmers generally would 
adopt a policy of differentiating wage rates in accordance with rela- 
tive efficiency, they could attract a more desirable class of help. Fur- 
thermore, a better class of laborers could be attracted by offering 
steadier employment. A good man, especially a married man, needs 
steady work and assured pay. Married men, as a class, make the 
most dependable of workers. 

Farmers who can use labor only part of the year are likely to be 
hardest pressed for help when they need it and to get only a poor class 
of labor. Other things being equal, the farmer who diversifies and 
can employ his laborers all the year can more easily secure and hold 
an efficient class of workers. With added crops and livestock some 
farmers might be able to provide year-round work for their help 
to mutual advantage. 

As an element of the noncasual workers' compensation, the farm- 
ers should in more cases be prepared to give living accommodations. 
Single men might be given board and room. Payment to employees 
of a bonus or some other reward for workmanship or steadiness 
above the average is worthy of more general use. 

For casual migratory labor many farmers could at reasonable ex- 
pense provide new or alter existing structures to afford more accept- 
able quarters (fig. 12). These should provide decent privacy and 
greater comfort and convenience. At least minimum facilities for 
comfort and cleanliness, such as screening of openings against flies 
and mosquitoes, a serviceable cookstove under cover (and in large 



TRUCK-FARM LABOR IN NEW JERSEY, 1922 37 

camps more than one), provision for disposal of camp wastes, ade- 
quate and safe toilet facilities, should be provided. 

Provision of a dwelling for year-round employees should be 
more widely recognized by farmers as a means of attracting and 
holding steady labor. Such a structure must be reasonably well built 
and conveniently arranged for the woman of the family. A wife 
dissatisfied with her home can do much to make her husband discon- 
tented with his job. (See fig. 9.) 

There should be means of enforcing school attendance of children 
of farm workers, a difficult problem in connection with children of 
migratory families. Public financial aid to destitute families to 
enable them to keep their children in school might be advisable. 

In the placing of at least noncasual labor, there is much need for 
a generally used method to bring together farm jobs and men well 
fitted for them, to the end that the employer may be better satisfied 
with his employee, the employee better satisfied with and more effi- 
cient on his job, and labor turnover lower. The development and 
use of trade tests as a means of determining in advance something 
of an applicant's fitness for his work would seem to be of decided 
advantage for these purposes. These tests would have to be varied 
to suit practices in different localities and types of agriculture. 

Public employment, offices are potentially better agents for fitting 
job and workers than private agencies by the very nature of their 
purposes and activities. 

The same public agencies might also act as agents to disseminate 
practical advice and information as to means of improving working 
conditions on farms. 



ORGANIZATION OF THE 
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE 

March 24, 1925 



Secretary of Agriculture William M. Jaedine. 

Assistant Secretary Renick W. Dunlap. 

Director of Scientific Work E. D. Ball. 

Director of Regulatory Work Walter G. Campbell. 

Director of Extension Work C. W. Warburton. 

Solicitor R. W. Williams. 

Weather Bureau Charles F. Marvin. Chief. 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics Henry C. Taylor, Chief. 

Bureau of Animal Industry John R. Mohler. Chief. 

Bureau of Plant Industry ._ William A. Taylor. Chief. 

Forest Service W. B. Greeley, Chief. 

Bureau of Chemistry C. A. Browne, Chief. 

Bureau of Soils Milton Whitney, Chief. 

Bureau of Entomology L. O. Howard, Chief. 

Bureau of Biological Survey E. W. Nelson, Chief. 

Bureau of Public Roads "__. Thomas H. MacDonald, Chief. 

Bureau of Home Economics Louise Stanley, Chief. 

Bureau of Dairying C. W. Larson, Chief. 

Fixed Nitrogen Research Laboratory F. G. Cottrell, Director. 

Office of Experiment Stations E. W. Allen. Chief. 

Office of Cooperative Extension Work C B. Smith, Chief. 

Office of Publications L. J. Haynes, Director. 

Library Clarlbel R. Barnett. Librarian. 

Federal Horticultural Board C. L. Marlatt. Chairman. 

Insecticide and Fungicide Board J. K. Haywood, Chairman. 

Packers and Stockyards Administration 1 G. N. Daggar, Acting in Charge. 

Grain Futures Administration (J. W. T. Duvel, Acting in Charge. 



This bulletin is a contribution from 

Bureau of Agricultural Economics Henry* C. Tayi.oi;. Chief. 

Division of Land Economics L. C. Gray', In charge. 

38 



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